Books and beyond

Published on 10 March 2023

Lauren Watkins as The Clergyman's Wife

There’s always something happening at the Library! Lauren Watkins, our Branch Supervisor for Gerringong Library and Museum (GLaM) started as a casual at Kiama Library back in 2017 and loves the variety of activities and community events that her role involves.

What’s a typical day in the library?

Our mornings are dedicated to customer-based tasks like collecting reservations, shelving, and setting up programs.

We often have a children’s program mid-morning, which makes the library busy and vibrant.

Afternoons usually involve facilitating book clubs, planning and delivering a huge variety of events, writing our podcast episodes, and making sure the library is inviting and well-organised.

Give us some stats?

For the last financial year at Kiama Libraries, 129,120 items were borrowed, which works out to 5.62 loans per resident (higher than the 4.3 state average). We’re so grateful for the support of our amazing community.

Explain the role of Branch Supervisor?

I supervise every aspect of what’s going on in the GLaM building, making sure everything is functional and running smoothly. This can be quite complex as we have groups using our community spaces, local artists exhibiting in the Gallery, the historical society taking care of the Museum, and so on.

Tell us about your regular events?

Kiama and Gerringong Libraries provide fantastic regular activities for children during school terms. Both libraries host a weekly preschool Storytime with books, songs, rhymes and craft; both libraries run a fortnightly Toddler Tales with fun, interactive activities; and Kiama Library also has a fortnightly Baby Storytime. These are all free of charge and can be booked via our Kiama Library website.

For our other visitors, Makers & Creators events also run throughout the year and there’s a regular knitting group at both libraries.

What about in school holidays? 

Both libraries have an amazing variety of school holiday activities, usually four or five at each branch, every school holidays. Coming up in May, we have Lego, craft, cooking, weaving, and even a family movie night!

And the awesome Escape Rooms? 

For our annual Escape Room events (held in January), I design the bulk of the puzzles and how the structure of the game will work, and then Carla (Outreach Officer) and Lauran (Gerringong Officer) work some kind of miracle magic and create amazing props and interactive physical game pieces that have to be seen to be believed.

The event usually sees 25-30 groups go through. Next January’s theme is Adventure, so ready your fedoras for an amazing journey through the jungle to an ancient temple!

Any more events?

There’s an Archives on Tour event coming up on 3 April where the Carrington albums will be at Kiama Library. Check our website for info and to book.

What do you love about your job?

I love the variety, and the community connection. I’m a supervisor and an event planner and a podcaster and a creator and a facilitator – there’s so many wonderful ways to connect with people and provide an essential, free service for public use.

What are the challenges?

The main challenge is being stretched for time! We have an amazing, passionate staff that push themselves to deliver interesting, engaging events; maintain a diverse collection of information; and provide comfortable, safe spaces for people to use. I think we achieve a phenomenal amount for the size of the LGA, with only two branches and our small but dedicated staff.

Tell us something we don’t know?

We have a podcast! We started the Good Librations podcast at the end of 2021, and currently have nine episodes of joyful literary exploration for anyone to access through podcast apps or the library website. Carla and I research a different area of literature each time (poetry, fairytales, mythology) and discuss it in depth, in quite an entertaining way, I hope! Please have a listen and let us know what you think!


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